The East-West Highway.
This concept is a longtime Maine conservative Shangri-La, a Randian dream of hardworking Maine investors, collared shirt sleeves permanently rolled up to their elbows, striking a blow against the mammoth bureaucracy of the Maine Department of Transportation by building a privately financed highway across the state from Quebec to Calais.
Of course, unlike the mammoth DOT bureaucracy, the scrappy, sleeve-uprolled, private investor consortium has never actually built a road, but hey… They keep talking about it?
Take that, government bureaucracy.
Yes, the East-West highway is the bright conservative transportation beacon of economic freedom and hope. By building a road across the middle of the state, Canadian truckers will be able to shave hours, hours I tell you, off of their trips between Toronto and New Brunswick. The economic ramifications are enormous. With a highway nearby, previously sleepy towns like Corinna could achieve the towering economic heights previously reserved for the giants of Maine highway exit stops like Burnham, or Medway. Why should prosperity be reserved for the likes of Island Falls?
The AMG thread about this route is here.
From this thread, I have learned several things. First, this heroic piece of private triumph required about $300,000 in government investment to “study.” Because government is always bad, except when it is used to fund some particular rich person’s private profits with no risk of loss to themselves.
Second, this miracle-upon-Medway will come into existence without any use of eminent domain but only through the force of good old-fashioned American elbow grease, or so says Legislator Doug Thomas. Despite the law appearing to allow for some government taking your land shenanigans, Mr. Thomas assures everyone that the East-West Highway is a big fricking deal and would require a new vote, one in which he would definitely NOT allow the eminent domain takings that some unlearned backwoods bumpkins (it’s not their fault- they are only backwoods because there is no highway there yet!) seem to see in the already-passed law pushed for at the behest of the investors proposing the East-West Highway. Because, of course, that is just some general law. Doug Thomas promises to vote the right way on the specific law, which will come. He promises.
And besides, even if they could, technically, use emininent domain, they wouldn’t need to! There is just so much space, surely they can survey, plan, permit, and build a route that goes around every last farmer or wood lot owner who doesn’t want to sell. And if something pops up, they can just re-survey, re-permit, and re-engineer a different route. Yeah, that would be cost effective. The men enacting this libertarian wet dream would never imagine to cut through that mess and ask for eminent domain. Sure, they would make more profit doing it the quick way, but freedom must be more important. I’m insulted you would even ask.
Third, I see in this thread the truth that only liberals whine about development. Conservatives clearly love having giant noisy things built in their backyard that, despite make their life worse, help the whole of society. You can see that truth because there is no NIMBY-esque complaining happening. Oh, except for this:
The opponents know that it is much more about the “corridor” and any and all other uses for such a “corridor” across Maine, other than a road. It is quite compellling to see the promoters deny that they are thinking of any other uses for this corridor…..than a road!
100+ tank car trains, carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota, are traversing Maine already, en route to Irving’s refinery in ST John. Approx 6 of these trains have crossed Maine, either by PanAm RR or the former CP line north of the projected road. My railroad sources just told me this morning that Irving is contracting for 15 of these trains weekly by september.
What bothers me about this plan, among other things, is that Vigue for years described the project as a “transportation and utility corridor,” then suddenly shifted the emphasis to it being an “east-west highway” last year and started dodging the issue of other uses. That worries me — a lot. I share woodcanoe’s doubts on that question. Also, what about wildlife movement between north and south Maine? Will this be a 220-mile wall across the center of Maine?
I’m all for business.
I think it’s more.
Even if it were just that, how’d you like me to build a highway just beyond you’re furthest stake?
As a Mainer below the “Volvo line,” even though I think the Volvo line died years ago and has been replaced by the “Not an old crappy pickup with a Bush-Cheney ’04 sticker” line, I want to give some quick advice to the AMGers on the fence about this project.
First, if you want a goddamn highway then just have the government build it. Can’t we even agree that the government can build roads? For crying out loud. Your party controls the whole government. You can dick around with this fantasy or you could, you know, actually build a road!
My second piece of advice is as follows. The highway is a bad idea, 30 years too late. In the ever increasing American service economy, powered by the Internet, building more roads through the woods so that widgets can get from Trois-Rivieres to Halifax more quickly is a losing proposition. Would it help some businesses? Sure. And if you built a train from my bedroom to my bathroom then I might take more shits. But in the end, this isn’t going to make a noticeable difference.
In modern America towns need to compete. I know, I sound like a free market capitalist instead of the evil Socialist I must truly be, but hear me out. Towns need to compete, and they have to compete over what is the future rather than the past.
Lots of towns have a highway. They don’t help if you’re not within a few hours of a major city. You need to compete for what young people actually want, because they are your town’s future.
When young people, most of whose can in fact still find decent jobs in Southern Maine, think about where they want to live and work we take a few things into account. One, we want to live near where we work. Walking around Portland is absolutely a lovely convenience. Moving away from here becomes more and more unthinkable the more I do it. I grew up in a Maine town where I had to drive everywhere. I always assumed I would move back to one like it someday. But not anymore. Cars are annoying, expensive, and unnecessary for most day to day errands. Most Maine towns, of course, cannot compete with a city like Portland in this regard, but too many give up altogether and assume no one will want to walk anywhere. That is wrong.
So build sidewalks. Make downtown areas that are pleasant to be in. With, you know, parks and stuff. Build bike paths and give out maps of same. Slow down traffic in the center of town, even if it means building annoyances like narrower lanes, and center islands. If I can’t imagine myself ever possibly walking or biking from my driveway to the grocery store, I promise you I will never become a taxpayer in your little paradise.
Also, build good schools. Take pride in how your school looks. I know, it is slightly more expensive to build anything not a plain white vinyl box to educate your children in, but if I’m looking at a house in your town then I’m going to look at the school. Seriously. Everyone I know who is moving, or planning to move in the next year, is doing it for schools. Schools drive Maine real estate values. People will literally downsize their home to get in a better school district, and that builds on itself because bringing in smart young families makes more smart young families want to be there. So don’t be a Naran. People want a school that they could picture being the launch pad for their child’s future. I don’t buy the cheapest roll of toilet paper, so why would I want the cheapest school?
Finally, admit you are what you are. I’m looking at you, Millinocket. Paper will never be that big again. Until they find a way to make touch screens out of trees, your best asset is the pristine wilderness around you. They don’t do much fishing in Bar Harbor anymore, either. If you are near Baxter, or some other large public wilderness area, leverage it and sell it. Being green is profitable. It really is.
So that’s my advice. If you want a highway, build one, but don’t play these stupid games. And don’t think anyone is going to move to the sticks just because there’s a road to nowhere.
Although, I might move to your town if I can see these petty, time wasting arguments in person. Maybe arrange an “AMG-Live and uncensored” night at the local cafe? I’d have to seriously consider.